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Looking at Late Roman (4th century) sculpture and mosaics, I don't recall ever seeing a depiction of a knife , dagger, pugio or other side arm. Can someone prove me wrong?
There was a statue standing in the forum, but a Vandal nicked! Confusedilly:
Nope wish I could.....annoying for us late Roman Re-enactors isn't it :???:
But we still have an enormous size of findings (e.g. Oudenburg, Lankhill), from where we can state, that 4th century roman soldiers used hunting knives. Though we cannot support the use of them in a martial way, but it wouldn't be a heresy to put them on your belt (since we know a scabbard from Aquincum, you may as well use that one instead of a simple leather one). I'm plannin making one off-season, and using it between fights, you know, just casually wearing it.
Quote:since we know a scabbard from Aquincum,

I think I've missed that one? Any pictures?
When I last went to Budapest, Aquincum was closed for the Winter. Sad
Me too- would very much like to see a picture of the Aquincum scabbard.

Just been through all the pictures in two large Late Roman books (Rome: The Late Empire, Roman Art AD 200-400 by
Ranuccio Bianchi Bandinelli; and Late Roman Painting by Wladimiro Dorigo) and searched the Statues of Late Antiquity database ).

No depictions of daggers or knives found in any of them.

Not even on hunting scenes, where you definitely need a knife for skinning, gutting etc. Even a [email protected]@dy shepherd boy (mosaic in Milan Chapel of St Aquilino , fragment by left hand apse) doesn't have one.

By comparison, a search with "sword" on the Statues of Late Antiquity database showed up 18 statues; "spear" showed two; and "armour" 40.

But as said earlier, many knives have been found archaeologically e.g. at Lankhills, Donderberg. They existed.

So whats going on?

Possible theories that I can come up with:-
-the fashion in late Roman times was for knives to be carried concealed on people's persons - perhaps they were viewed as downmarket?
-the fashion was for late Roman times was for knives to be carried in a bag - its a tool after all.
-the fashion in late Roman times was that you kept your knives at home in a chest or drawer- its a tool after all.
-the artistic fashion in late Roman times was not to depict knives for some reason and delete them from the record

Any other ideas?


Late Roman knives are not very big and impressive, so perhaps they did not warrent any attention in sculpture. They were, as you rightly point out, more of a utilitarian object. There is not many pouches shown on sculpture, either.
Quote:the artistic fashion in late Roman times was not to depict knives for some reason and delete them from the record
Perhaps something like that. We discussed belts and baldrics before and these, too, are only rarely depicted in detail.
I will show you a paper about the scabbard, only it's on my home computer (I'm in my college now). So on the weekend.

It's fairly simple, I think from the 3rd c. It was wore on the belt, in a more or less vertical position, an not really concealed, it was quite close to your belt buckle.

Aquincum is nice, but not a big deal. Recent years they almost stopped in means of evolvin/developing, and other roman sites gained a foothold also (Savaria, maybe Gorsium).

Though it's in hungarian and german, you'll see some nice drawings and photos
Interesting find Mark. Thanks for that link.

Yes, thank you for this link. That is a really neat piece and one I might like to try to make a copy of.


I would like to ask how to attach our third century pugio on the belt? Which model of separate pugio hangers/frogs are acceptable?
Ah darn, well let's see here... I'm thinking. In the 3rd century the Pugio died out by the time of Dura Europos I think. What belt find did you use?
Parenthetically, when do we start calling Romans "Late"? Latter half of the 3rd?
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